Changan has debuted the next generation of its CS75 crossover SUV, the CS75 Plus, a larger version with more muscular surfacing and available in two different faces depending on the vehicle’s engine size.
The vehicle, which will be available in the Chinese market later this year, is part of the brand’s growing family of SUV and crossovers, including a strong connection with the carmaker’s fastback crossover, the CS85. It also establishes a new evolution in its ‘Vitality Motion’ design philosophy and in its strong attention to Chinese consumer preferences.
The CS75 makes use of its increased volume with a muscular, more sculpted surface features and stronger stance in comparison to its predecessor. Both front-end versions make use of narrow headlights tracing the width of the car, but otherwise have sharply different expressions.
The standard, 1.5 litre engine CS75 has a large grille that opens into the headlights, while the bottom bar runs in a continuous line to the air intakes. The ‘Sport’ 2.0 turbo version meanwhile, has a distinctly more aggressive black mesh grille and enlarged air intakes.
Grille patterns on the bottom of the Sport version front are echoed above the exhaust on the rear. The Sport also features chrome strip through the boot lid and backlights with snakeskin-like patterns; the standard version is more subdued.
Global head of design Chen Zheng told CDN that the design of the new model is intended to be more premium than the original, reflecting in part the maturing taste of Chinese consumers, especially for SUVs. The original CS75, which debuted in 2013, had a dryer, flatter surfacing, and more off-road design signals. In the years since, however, SUVs in China have become more associated with safety and luxury, said Chen.
“People have realised that they have few opportunities to take the vehicles off road, and so our messaging is also changing. You have to really know your clients to translate the brand essence,” he said.
Determining this refined message required some internal battles, however, according to Chen, who leads three design studios in Turin, Chongqing and Shin Yokohama, Japan. The success of the previous CS75 meant that Changan’s sales and marketing teams were reluctant to see dramatic changes in the next generation. But the design team wanted to move in a new direction. The impasse was broken during a visit to the Italian Alps not far from the Turin design studio, where the team witnessed a deer leaping in the air.
“Everyone thought wow, that is so elegant. It is muscular without being heavy, and is nimble. Our vitality motion design philosophy is that we want to find things that are more alive. So we wanted to create something dynamic, like a deer.”
This inspiration translated into the muscular surface treatment and shoulder on the vehicle. “You can see the muscle on the side view, dynamic and strong. We have a strong volume, but wanted people to see that volume and the features,” he said.
On the front of the vehicle, the deer is also visible in the expression especially in the standard version, with the open grill and wraparound lights echoing the antlers of a buck.
Chen insists that the deer imagery was not a design theme, but a way to overcome the conflict between the design team’s ambitions and the desire for continuity amongst other departments. In shaping the face, for example, the design team fought hard to keep the grille open and continuous at the top and bottom.